Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced the appointment of David Skorton, President of Cornell University, as Chair of the New York Racing Association Reorganization Board, and announced the public members of the Board, putting in place a temporary, publicly controlled body to transform management of thoroughbred racing in New York State.
The NYRA Reorganization Board consists of 17 directors: eight appointed by the Governor; two directors each appointed by the Senate and Assembly; and five directors appointed by the former NYRA Board. Breeders and Horsemen each have an ex officio member. The Reorganization Board will conduct a national search for a new CEO and General Counsel for NYRA. The NYRA Reorganization Board will be in effect for 3 years, following which NYRA will revert back to majority private control. Seven of the appointees are new to the NYRA Board, and bring experience from the entertainment, finance, and legal fields in addition to horse racing.
"With the new leadership of the NYRA Reorganization Board, we have an enormously accomplished group to assist us in making New York thoroughbred racing the best in the country," Governor Cuomo said. "The new Board is charged with reforming NYRA for the benefit of taxpayers, fans, track workers, jockeys, and the horses themselves. I am especially grateful to Dr. Skorton for taking on the duties of Chair, and thank him for his hard work as co-chair of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Councils, where his efforts have been instrumental in helping craft and put in place a strategic vision for creating jobs and growing the regions economy."
The Governor also announced John Hendrickson as Special Advisor to the Board for Saratoga, due to the unique impact of horse racing on the Saratoga community.
Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said, "The horse racing industry employs thousands of people in New York, generates millions of dollars in revenues for the state and local governments, and attracts tourists from all over the world. Its critically important that the NYRA Reorganization Board establishes new leadership and management that will make the horse racing industry as strong as possible, not only for the significant economic benefits, but for the safety of the horses and the enjoyment of the fans."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "It is my pleasure to appoint Michael Del Guidice and Rick Cotton to the NYRA Reorganization Board. With these appointments, we are helping to safeguard a statewide economic engine that employs thousands. It is our sincere hope that the Reorganization Board can restore confidence in this industry, one that has delighted New Yorks race-goers for more than a century."
Senator John Bonacic, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming & Wagering said, "I applaud the Governor for his efforts to change NYRA for the better. I look forward to meeting with his nominees, and to the new NYRA Board being constituted. A new NYRA, which understands it is responsible to race fans and taxpayers is very welcome. I look forward to NYRAs advancing an agenda of growth for the horse racing industry and look forward to seeing their success."
Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman J. Gary Pretlow, said, "The thrill of the races should exist in tandem with the health and safety of the horses involved and with sound business practices. Under the guidance of the Reorganization Board, I am confident that NYRA will regain the publics confidence, protect horses and riders, and sustain the thousands of jobs dependent on New Yorks growing racing industry."
The Governor's appointees are as follows:
David Skorton, President, Cornell University ChairDavid J. Skorton, Cornell University's 12th president, is a cardiologist, professor of biomedical engineering, and professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is past chair of the Business-Higher Education Forum, an independent, nonprofit organization of industry CEOs, leaders of colleges and universities, and foundation executives; life member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and member of the board of directors of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. President Skorton has long been active in regional and state economic development. During 2009 he chaired a gubernatorial Task Force on Diversifying the New York State Economy through Industry-Higher Education Partnerships. Cornell University is home to the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, which includes the Cornell Equine Hospital.Dr. Skorton will resign his position as co-chair of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council in order to devote time to the NYRA Board. The Governor's appointment of President Skorton as chair is subject to approval by the new NYRA Board.
Dr. Skorton said, "Horse racing is an integral part of our state's culture and economy, and I am honored to be joining the talented members of the New York
Racing Association Reorganization Board to improve the industry for the horses, jockeys, back stretch workers, horse owners, bettors and all who enjoy racing and make it happen. With the collective strengths and abilities of my fellow board members, I know we can expand New York State's global leadership in thoroughbred racing, and I look forward to helping achieve this important goal."
Bobby Flay, Chef and Thoroughbred Owner
Mr. Flay is an award winning chef and restauranteur with a strong interest in thoroughbred racing. Mr. Flay opened Mesa Grill, his first restaurant in 1991 for which he earned the "Best Restaurant 1992" by New York Magazine's Gael Greene. He opened Bolo Restaurant & Bar opened in November 1993 in the Flatiron district. That same year, Flay was voted the James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef of the Year 1993, an award that honors the country's most accomplished chef under the age of 30. In April 2005, Flay opened Bar Americain, featuring regional American cuisine. In June 2006, Flay opened his first steakhouse, Bobby Flay Steak, at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. In addition to his restaurants, Flay shares his knowledge and enthusiasm for food through his cookbooks and his many national cooking shows on the Food Network, Cooking Channel and NBC. Mr. Flay is also a horse owner and racing enthusiast. One of his horses, More Than Real, won the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Mr. Flay said, "As a native New Yorker, business proprietor and thoroughbred owner I am thrilled to be added to the board at NYRA by Governor Cuomo. My overall goal is to be part of the team that helps racing in New York become the sport and entertainment venue it deserves to be."
Jane Rosenthal, Producer, Co-Founder, Tribeca Film Festival, and CEO, Tribeca Enterprises
Jane Rosenthal is an acclaimed producer and the co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. She has distinguished herself as a leading film producer with a roster of both critically and commercially acclaimed films. Ms. Rosenthal has been featured numerous times in Varietys Women in Showbiz, The Hollywood Reporters Women in Entertainment and Crain's New York Business 100 Most Influential Women in NYC Business issues. Ms. Rosenthal has produced one of the highest grossing comedy franchises of all times, Meet The Parents (2000) and its sequels Meet The Fockers (2004) and Little Fockers (2010); the box office sensation Analyze This (1999) and its sequelAnalyze That (2002); the Academy Award-nominated Wag the Dog (1997); and critically acclaimed films Marvins Room(1996) and About a Boy (2002). She has produced over 20 major films including The Good Shepherd, Rent and A Bronx Tale. In 1989, Ms. Rosenthal co-founded Tribeca Production and the Tribeca Film Center in the lower Manhattan neighborhood of TriBeCa with actor Robert De Niro. In 2002, Ms. Rosenthal organized the first annual Tribeca Film Festival, which has grown into a major international cultural event.
Leonard Riggio, Chairman, Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Leonard Riggio is the Chairman of Barnes & Noble, Inc., a Fortune 500 company, which is the worlds largest bookseller. Beginning with a single college bookstore in 1965, Mr. Riggio built one of the largest enterprises in the history of American retail, now employing over 50,000 booksellers. He is widely known as a visionary in the bookselling industry, and a brilliant marketer and entrepreneur. Mr. Riggio is also the founder of GameStop (NYSE: GME), the largest multi-channel video game retailer, which operates 7,000 stores worldwide. Mr. Riggio devotes himself to many philanthropic initiatives, including building and donating homes to families who lost theirs in Hurricane Katrina. Since 2005, he and his wife, Louise, have built and donated 101 homes to New Orleans families with another 100 homes slated for construction. Mr. Riggio is the owner of My Meadowview LLC, a thoroughbred racing and breeding business.
Anthony Bonomo, CEO, Administrators for the Professions, Inc.
Anthony Bonomo, Esq. is CEO of Administrators for the Professions, Inc. and Board Member of Physicians' Reciprocal Insurers. Mr. Bonomo has been with AFP since 1985. Prior to that time, Mr. Bonomo served as a litigator on medical malpractice and tort claims. In 2005, he founded Brooklyn Boyz Stables.
Vincent Tese, Executive Chairman, Bond Street Holdings, LLC.
Mr. Tese is a lawyer, investment advisor and cable television executive, and is currently the Executive Chairman of Bond Street Holdings, LLC as well as the Executive Chairman of its subsidiary, Florida Community Bank. He is also a director of several corporations, including Cablevision Systems Corporation, ICE Clear Credit LLC, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Madison Square Garden. In addition, he is Trustee of New York University School of Law and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Mr. Tese has served in state government in a number of positions. He served as State Superintendent of Banks from 1981 to 1983, in March 1985 was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Development Corporation, and in 1987, was named Director of Economic Development for New York State, which added to his portfolio the titles of Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development and Chairman of both the Science and Technology Foundation and the Job Development Authority. He was appointed a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1991 and elected its vice chairman in 1992. Mr. Tese also chaired the New York State Advisory Commission on Racing in the 21st Century.
Joseph Spinelli, Managing Director, Navigant
Joseph Spinelli serves as Global Leader of the Anti-Bribery & Corruption Practice at Navigant Consulting. Appointed in 1986, he spent eight years as New York State's first ever Inspector General, leading fraud, abuse, waste and corruption investigations for all New York State agencies and authorities. Prior to his appointment as Inspector General, Mr. Spinelli served as a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in both the New York and New Haven field offices. Mr. Spinelli also served as an Independent Fiscal Monitor during the post-Sept. 11 recovery effort at the World Trade Center, with investigative, compliance and monitoring responsibilities. In 2004, Mr. Spinelli was elected to the Board of Regents of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, an international professional association with 40,000 members. In February 2010, Mr. Spinelli was appointed to the New York State Commission on Public Integrity.
Robert Megna, New York State Budget Director
Robert Megna is the New York State Budget Director, having served in the capacity since 2009. He is responsible for the overall development and management of the States fiscal policy, including overseeing the preparation of budget recommendations for all State agencies and programs, economic and revenue forecasting, tax policy, fiscal planning, capital financing and management of the States debt portfolio, as well as pensions and employee benefits. Mr. Megna previously served as the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, responsible for overseeing the collection and accounting of more $90 billion in State and local taxes, the administration of State and local taxes, including New York City and City of Yonkers income taxes and the processing of tax returns, registrations and associated documents. Mr. Megna will be replaced as chairman of the Franchise Oversight Board by Robert Williams, Interim Director of the Division of the Lottery. Mr. Megna will act as a financial watchdog on the NYRA board.
John Hendrickson, Special Advisor for Saratoga
John Hendrickson is a Saratoga Springs resident and philanthropist. He serves as the Breeding and Racing Manager for Mary Lou Whitney Stables. He is also a former aide to Governor Walter Joseph Hickel of Alaska. Mr. Hendrickson and his wife, Mary Lou Whitney, have initiated the Backstretch Appreciation program to benefit backstretch workers while working at Saratoga Race Course providing meals and activities for the nearly 2,000 backstretch workers. He will serve as the Governor's representative to the NYRA Board on issues involving the Saratoga Race Course and community.
John Hendrickson said, "Governor Cuomo's quality appointments demonstrate his seriousness in reforming NYRA the right way."
The Senate's appointees are as follows:
Michael Dubb, Principal and Founder, Beechwood Organization
Michael Dubb is the Principal and Founder of the Beechwood Organization, the 58th largest homebuilder in the United States according to Professional builder magazine in 2011. Michael Dubb built and donated a 7,500 square-foot day care center, Anna House, for the children of the Belmont Racetrack workers. Mr. Dubb is a two time past President of the Long Island Builder's Institute, having participated in LBI Helps projects, has been a Board Member of the Long Island Housing Partnership and is currently an Associate Trustee of the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. An avid horseman, Michael was appointed a member of the New York Racing Association Board of Directors in 2008. In 2011 he was the leading thoroughbred owner in New York State.
Earle Mack, Senior Partner, Mack Company
Earle Mack is a Senior Partner at the Mack Company. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for Mack-Cali Realty Corp. Mack served as United States Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Finland from May 2004 until November 2005. He is a former member of the NYRA Board of Directors and served as Chairman of the New York State Racing Commission from 1983 to 1989, during which time he was also a member of the NYS Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.
The Assembly's appointees are as follows:
Michael J. Del Giudice, Chairman, Rockland Capital Energy Investments, LLC.
Mr. Del Giudice has experience in private equity, with a focus on the power and energy infrastructure market, as well as experience in government service. Mr. Del Giudice has been the Senior Managing Director at Millennium Credit Markets LLC, New York, NY, an investment banking firm, since 1996, and Chairman and Senior Managing Director of Rockland Capital, LLC, New York, NY, a private equity company focusing on power and energy infrastructure markets, since 2003. Mr. Del Giudice is Lead Independent Director of Consolidated Edison Inc., since 2008. Previously, Mr. Del Giudice was a General Partner at the investment bank of Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, and served as Secretary to the New York State Governor and Chief of Staff to the New York State Assembly Speaker. Mr. Del Giudice was appointed to the NYRA board in 2003 and promoted to Vice Chairman in 2005.
Rick Cotton, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, NBCUniversal
Rick Cotton was named Executive Vice President and General Counsel of NBCUniversal in August 2004. He supervises the NBCUniversal Law Department, which provides legal advice to all NBCUniversal business units. In addition, he oversees NBCUniversal's global regulatory and legislative policy agenda, including the companys worldwide anti-piracy efforts. From 2000 to 2004, Cotton served as president and managing director of London-based CNBC Europe and has been at NBC since 1989. From 1991 to 2000, he served as Chair of the Board of the public-private New York Primary Care Development Corporation. He was appointed the deputy executive secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under Secretary Joseph A. Califano in 1977 and was named the executive secretary in 1978. In 1980 he became the special counsel to Deputy Secretary John Sawhill of the U.S. Department of Energy.